Barefoot in Chisinau

I mentioned in my everyday blog that I’d ended up having to walk the streets of Chisinau barefoot because my sandal broke. What actually happened is that the cord that connects the toe to the heel loops round the side of the sole and through a small rubber hole, but for some reason there was too much stress on the surroundings of the hole and the cord broke through. So the damage is on the rubber lapel, and not on the cord. Without being held in place, the cord just flies free and there’s nothing to stop my foot sliding out the side of the sandal.

This isn’t supposed to happen. I may have to write an e-mail to Xero shoes telling them this – they claim on their website that they’re virtually impossible to destroy.

The advantage is that for long-distance travel, I can wear the walking shoes that are clogging up my backpack and making it heavy. The disadvantage is that they’re old, worn through, heavy, make my feet too hot, and the only reason I brought them with me is because I needed something like them for my Chernobyl visit; I was going to dump them soon afterwards. Obviously I didn’t have them with me when I was wandering around Chisinau …

Now, I know that I do call myself the ‘Barefoot Backpacker’. And I’m quite used to walking barefoot, so for me, my sandals breaking was more frustrating than anything else. However, I did get the impression that Chisinau isn’t a city where people tended to walk barefoot very much at all. Although no-one actually said anything to me (maybe because I’m obviously a foreigner), I did notice quite a few people looking at me, staring; more so than when I was wearing the sandals. I couldn’t tell if it was amazement or disgust though.

The pavements here aren’t actually too bad (although not as smooth as those in Bucharest, some of which were very shiny and easy underfoot), although a couple of the side-streets are a bit rough underfoot. What mitigated the situation a bit was that not long afterwards, the rainstorm started, and because Chisinau (like Bucharest) has really bad drainage, the roads and pavements quickly flooded, so barefoot was probably more convenient than most other footwear anyway.

Oddly, I always feel more confident walking barefoot if a) i’m walking with someone else, whether they’re barefoot or not (it doesn’t actually matter to me), and b) if I’m holding my footwear (rather than it being in my bag). I guess that way it’s clear from people looking that while I’m choosing to walk barefoot, it’s apparently for a specific reason (because they can see I have shoes), so would wear them if I needed to, rather than not having any at all and so I’d think that they’d think that I’m just weird. Or something. Yes, I have a problem with self-confidence …

No idea if I can get the rubber repaired on my sandal. Might require superglue or packing tape in the first instance, and maybe the creation of a new hole in the second, although given that it was on a rubber flap that comes off the sole, there’s no real room to do that except on the sole itself. Given it happened on the same day I lost my fleece, it’s not been a clever clothing day.

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2 Comments

  1. Bea

    Perhaps the shoe company could restore your faith in the barefoot sandals by sponsoring the rest of your trip with a range of their products?!

    I no longer notice people looking at my bare feet but those who walk with me say it’s happening all the time. I’m happy with my bare feet. That’s my business. How other people feel about my feet is their business 🙂

    1. barefoot-backpacker barefoot-backpacker

      Oooh, I hadn’t thought of asking them that. Once I get to Kiev and my net connection is a little more stable I will draft something up. But that would be quite cool. 🙂

      And indeed I agree with you in principle, and to be honest I sometimes don’t notice, but as I’ve said to you before, it’s a question of self-confidence. Sometimes I do worry more than at other times; sometimes I don’t feel self-confident enough to even try.

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